Class of 2016 Has Its Priorities in Order


When the judges chosen by BusinessWest to score the nominations for the 40 Under Forty program (roughly 150 or so annually in recent years) complete their assignment and e-mail those scores back, they will usually send along a few editorial comments as well.

‘That took longer than I thought it would’ is a common refrain, as is ‘I wish some of those nominations were more detailed’ — a strong bit of advice to those thinking about nominating someone they know next year (and nomination forms for 2017 are available at businesswest.com). And there’s usually at least one or two along these lines — ‘that was a lot of fun; thanks for allowing me to be a part of it.’

But invariably, at least one judge will also say something like ‘I feel a little (or a lot) better about this region and its future having read about all those young people and what they’re doing.’

This year was no exception, and with good reason. Like other recent groups, the class of 2016 is not only excelling in the workplace and in the broad theater of community involvement, but in perhaps the most important realm of all — work/life balance.

Indeed, this class does a very good job of reflecting the priorities of the young people now becoming leaders in communities across the four counties of Western Mass., and increasingly, the top priority is family, which is more critical to the future of this region than having been named assistant vice president of a department at their bank or that they’re involved with the local Boys & Girls Club — although those are vitally important as well.

A look at the pictures of our winners this year  reveals what is important to them. Yes, there are images that reflect their day jobs and what they like to do on weekends, but for the most part, it’s family.

And in the words that accompany those photos, family once again takes center stage. Comments offered by Andrew Anderlonis, president of Rediker Software in Hampden, sum things up nicely.

“One of the big reasons I left the Navy was that I wanted to be around to see my child grow and up and be there for him,” he told BusinessWest, referring to 2-year-old Tyler.

There are many similar comments to this effect from young people who make it clear that, while they are ambitious and intend to succeed in their fields while also giving back to the community, home is where their attention lies.

And this is reason enough to feel a little better about this region and its prospects moving forward.

Indeed, at BusinessWest’s annual Difference Makers gala on March 31, Carol Leary, who never minces words and has a way of drilling down and getting to the heart of the matter in question, said that, while she was flattered to be honored as she was, she knows the real difference makers in this world are parents.

Or, to be more specific, parents who take the myriad responsibilities that come with that job at least as seriously as those in their work on the job and in the community.

This class of 40 Under Forty winners seems to have that part down. Thus, we should all feel a little (or a lot) better about the future.

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